There’s a lot to consider when buying a house: location, price, bedroom count, taxes, and a slew of other items everyone and your uncle will remind you about, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer.
Here’s yet another item you shouldn’t forget: Educating yourself about local schools. Whether you have a full house, you’re an empty nester looking to downsize, or you're years from starting a family, the quality of schools should factor into your home search.
According to the National Association of Realtors, schools will affect:
- The sale price: Homes in the best school districts sell for more, on average, than similar houses in areas with lower-rated schools.
- The number of people looking at the same homes you are: In a 2012 National Association of Realtors report, 25 percent of buyers listed school quality as a deciding factor in their purchase.
- The resale value of your home: Home values in sought-after school districts often fare better, even in a down market, than similar homes in areas with less reputable schools.
So how do you find out about schools if you’re new to the area? Search online for school district websites. Many of them post test scores of individual schools and comparisons to other schools statewide.
You can also explore greatschools.org, which features data, school “report cards” and comments from parents and students. Or check out U.S. News & World Report rankings that track the nation’s top high schools.
If you’re a parent, keep in mind that school boundaries change. Call the local district to verify that the home you’re looking at is still within the bounds of the schools you like.
Of course, nothing beats firsthand information, so ask residents in your targeted areas about local schools and other educational options.
Find a local RE/MAX agent who can tell you more, too. RE/MAX agents know their communities and are great bets for having up-to-date neighborhood information.